Last week I wrote about Praying with a Muslim co-worker. Surprisingly of the two posts I have written on this topic, only one commenter has said anything negative. I actually expected it to be much more controversial than it has proven to be. I made a decision to respond to the negative comment privately (instead of on our site) after I visited his blog and discovered that he loves to have long, drawn-out, and very viscous public arguments. Indeed even our private conversation became a painful attack very quickly. I’m not afraid of controversy, but I like to limit negativity. There is a difference. The thing is, I love my Muslim co-worker. I do not agree with her religion, but I love her. For that reason I feel protective of her and don’t want her or others like her to be subjected to the kinds of hateful things he was writing in his emails to me. Everyone has the right to free speech – on their own blog. On my posts, however, I choose not to subject myself or our readers to hateful speech. It’s the same as how in your house you are free to watch any kind of television program you wish to, but in my own house I choose not to subject myself to ungodly programming.
I will say though that this person brought up some points that made me realize some people may misunderstand the nature of my interactions with my Muslim co-worker. I considered posting his entire initial comment here so that I could go through it point by point, but it would make for a very long post and I want the focus of this post to be love. But I’ve decided in the future that I may allow the initial negative comment to be posted, along with my response, but then limit subsequent dialog if it starts spiraling down the rabbit hole. Those are just my own thoughts, the other Rebekahs may handle comments on their posts differently.
Here’s the thing, people are won to the Lord by love. They are not won through clever arguments, coercion, or Bible thumping. They are certainly not won through curses, threats, or hate. Rebekah M. recently wrote about this in her post: The God of Love. You see, it was the LOVE of God that compelled Him to die on a cross for me. When the Lord talked with the Samaritan woman at the well He did not attack her with ugly words. He did not ignore her (which was customary in His day). He did not condemn her. The Samaritan woman had at least three things going against her: first, she was a woman. Generally men wouldn’t speak to women who weren’t in the presence of a male relative. Second, she was a Samaritan. Samaritans were considered to be lower than dogs to the Jewish people. Their worship was tainted with pagan rituals and beliefs. Third, she was a woman of ill-repute. She lived a very ungodly lifestyle. None of this stopped Jesus from reaching out to her. He had compassion on her. His compassion didn’t mean that He condoned her activity, no, He was honest with her and told her she needed the living water that only He could offer. He treated her with love.
Likewise, I am doing my best to love the people around me with a godly love. My Muslim co-worker knows I don’t agree with her religion. We have had many conversations about who Jesus is and what He did. I am praying that one day she will get the revelation that what I’m telling her isn’t just what I believe, it is TRUTH.
I can completely understand people being uncomfortable with what I’m doing with my Muslim co-worker, especially as it relates to our mutual prayers. I myself have gone into this with much caution and prayers. I have saturated it in prayers. My personal prayers every single day are for God’s will in this situation. We have also prayed about this many times in our family prayers. People at church have prayed. I have asked God to close the door if He isn’t in it. But the door has remained open and I have seen how He is drawing her through this. She’s asking many more questions about Jesus now. Our conversations are focused on God. She wants to know more about what I believe. She wants to know more about Him. She doesn’t yet realize that what is holding her back from knowing Him is the weight of tradition and the comfort of ritual. She doesn’t yet realize that it is her fear of familial and cultural expectations that are blinding her, but I believe in a God who knows how to take off the blinders!
One thing this commenter wrote to me was how Muslims pray towards Mecca and that by doing that with her I’m praying toward an idol. Actually, he’s made an assumption (which I can understand because my post wasn’t very clear) that isn’t true. I pray next to her, but we don’t face the same direction. I actually do that on purpose. She prays on the floor on her prayer mat while I pray seated at my desk which faces a different direction. As I mentioned in my first post on this topic, it is much more like we are praying at the same time, rather than praying together. The thing is, she is going to pray regardless, with or without me being present. Because my office is one of the few places she can do this, I’m almost always going to be there. I can choose to sit silently while she praises Allah, or I can choose to lift of the name of Jesus. If I’m there praying in the Name of Jesus, there is a chance she will feel His Spirit move in a way she hasn’t felt before. There is a chance she will feel HIM reaching out to her. There is a chance my prayers will awaken something in her that will lead her to Truth. It is very clear to both of us that the focus of our prayers is different. She knows I’m praying to Jesus and that I believe He is the only way.
Condemning her won’t win her to the Truth, only love can do that. I remember very clearly sitting in a church service where the preacher was talking about something controversial. He got the whole congregation laughing and poking fun of people. What he didn’t know is that I came out of the lifestyle he was making fun of. When the congregation started laughing, it felt extremely personal, like they were all laughing at me. Even though none of them knew about my past, it was a humiliating experience for me. I didn’t feel love, I felt contempt. If the Lord had not already converted me, I’m sure I never would have stepped foot in a church again.
We need to be sensitive and compassionate if we want to win people to the Lord. Yes, it’s VERY important that we don’t participate in ungodly activities, but the best way to separate someone from their ungodly ways, is to show them the love of Jesus. Jesus won me with love, and I have faith that He will win my Muslim co-worker with love as well.
In His Love,